Bill C-55.

The government continued to listen to ongoing complaints and demands regarding high-risk offenders. Bill C-55 was enacted as a governmental effort to reduce citizens' anxieties and fears about high-risk offenders, particularly sex offenders, and achieve long-term protection of society. Justice Minister Allan Rock stated that Bill C-55 is "an important tool in trying to make ourselves safer" (Canadian Press Newswire, 1998).

Bill C-55 contains changes to various acts regarding high-risk offenders, creating harsher legislation against these offenders. This bill has made it easier for offenders to be classified as dangerous or long- term. By allowing more offenders to be classified as high-risk, more offenders will receive longer sentences, receive fewer conditional releases and be subject to longer community supervision. All of these changes are aimed at reducing the likelihood that sex offenders will re-offend and providing longer periods of control over certain offenders.

This legislation is based on the assumption that intensive supervision will prevent sexual re- offending, but this approach is not based on an appropriate premise. The government should not simply supervise these offenders, but rather provide treatment for these offenders both within the institutions and in the community. Simply keeping a person in prison longer or putting them under intensive supervision will not deter re-offending: these offenders need to receive treatment.

Community Notification

Community notification was a concept introduced to protect the public and inform them of where dangerous offenders, specifically sexual offenders, were locating themselves. Community notification has been called "a boost to public safety" (Canadian Press Newswire, December 1996); a legislative move that came about as a "result of years of lobbying by police and victims' rights groups" and "society's recently found, but increasingly iron-willed, intolerance for those who prey sexually on children" (Hurst, 1997).

The public fears these offenders, and in order to prevent themselves from becoming the victim of such offenders, they demand to know who and where these people are.

"Somewhere in the process of protecting itself, the community, police, the media, and individuals in general, seemed to agree the greater public good would be better served if the suspect's presumption of innocence was, at least in part, overridden" (LeBlanc, 1997, p. 3).

The Correctional Service of Canada is required to notify the police of a federal inmate's release on an unescorted temporary absence, parole of statutory release, or upon warrant expiry, and provincial institutions must provide notification about the release of sex offenders. The police then decide to notify the public if it is considered that the inmate poses a threat and notification is in the best interest of the public.


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